Social cohesion is an established policy goal in Greece. Since 2005, groups such as the Roma and non-Greek economic immigrants have been recognised as deserving special protection (“socially sensitive groups”). Policy objectives include ensuring minimum levels of welfare, access to education and equality of opportunity for all.
A key challenge is the social integration of Roma people, as well as the increasing numbers of economic immigrants. An integrated inter-ministerial programme of social cohesion measures directed to the Roma community, including an educational initiative which, reportedly, more than doubled the percentage of Roma children completing obligatory (9-year) education, was launched in 2002; a plan to issue several thousand house ownership loans to Roma people is currently under way. Economic immigrants are encouraged to attend Greek language courses, administered under the auspices of local government, and designed to positively curb social exclusion.
Several initiatives, involving local government and third sector actors, and including NGOs and individual volunteers, some in the context of the EQUAL initiative partially funded by the EU, focus on encouraging social inclusion of immigrants, fighting against human trafficking, and other issues.